With the class of shock-absorbing proteins, nature created some of the most robust materials combining both mechanical strength and elasticity. Their excellent ability to dissipate energy to prevent surrounding cells from damage is an interesting property that regularly is exploited for applications in biomimetic materials. Similar to biomaterials, where mechanical stimuli are transmitted into a (bio)chemical response, mechanophoric catalysts transform mechanical energy into a chemical reaction. Force transmission is realized commonly by polymeric handles directing the applied force to the mechanophoric bond, which in turn leads to stress-induced activation of the catalyst. Therefore, shock-absorbing proteins able to take up and store mechanical energy elastically for subsequent force transduction to the labile bond seem to be perfect candidates to fulfill this task. Here, we report on the synthesis of two different latent mechanophoric copper(I) bis(N
-heterocyclic carbene) complexes bearing either two carboxyl groups or two amino groups which allow conjugation reactions with either the N- or the C-terminus of amino acids or peptides. The chosen catalysts can be activated, for instance, by applying external mechanical force via ultrasound, removing one N
-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligand. Post-modification of the mechanophoric catalysts via peptide coupling (Gly, Val) and first reactions showed that the mechanoresponsive behavior was still present after the coupling. Subsequent polycondensation of both catalysts lead to a polyamide including the Cu(I) moiety. Mechanochemical activation by ultrasound showed conversions in the copper(I)-catalyzed alkyne-azide “click” reaction (CuAAC) up to 9.9% proving the potential application for the time and spatial controlled CuAAC.
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